Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relief for tired truckers

Wiser heads have prevailed in Washington regarding a lax trucking safety regulation the Bush administration repeatedly pushed on behalf of the industry. The Obama Administration has agreed to reconsider the rule, which safety advocates said could have led to greater driver fatigue and more accidents.

The rule, finalized in the waning days of the Bush White House, would have allowed long-haul truckers to drive up to 11 hours straight. For 60 years before this, the maximum amount truckers were allowed to drive at a stretch was 10 hours.

Also included was a reduction in off-duty time for drivers. Previous regulations gave truckers 50 or more hours of rest and recovery time at the end of a work week, but the Bush revision cut that to as little as 34 hours.

A federal appeals court struck down the Bush rule twice, saying the government did not adequately explain its reasoning for the extra hour on the road. But the Bush administration reinstated it each time.

A coalition of highway-safety defenders and the Teamsters union sued to get the rule thrown out. Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, who warned that longer hours behind the wheel are dangerous for drivers and the public, promised to push for a rule that protects truckers “instead of the greed of the trucking industry.”

Finally, it appears, the concerns of safety and labor groups have been taken seriously. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pledged to revise the rule, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declaring that “we believe that starting over and developing a rule that can help save lives is the smart thing to do.”

Protecting truck drivers and the public from unsafe driving conditions is so much wiser than bending to special interests.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Teamsters, ABF Not in Concession Talks

Statement by National Freight Director Tyson Johnson

There is an erroneous media report that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters National Freight Division is in negotiations with ABF that would result in concessions for our members represented under the National Master Freight Agreement. Let me be clear -- this report is false.

According to a November 17 article on the Journal of Commerce website titled "Trucker ABF, Teamsters in Concession Talks" ABF Chief Operating Officer Wesley Kemp stated that the Teamsters and ABF are in a concessionary "dialogue and hopefully we will reach an agreement soon." In fact, we are not having contract or concession discussions with the company.

I have contacted ABF and demanded that they correct the record.

"Cadillac" of Trucking Terminals to be Closed by YRCW


Financially troubled YRC Worldwide is closing its 202-door Richfield, Ohio, breakbulk terminal, one of the largest in its system. The move is part of YRCW's downsizing, and affects about 1,000 Teamsters at three Ohio terminals. About 400 of those 1,000 Teamsters already are laid off.


Trucking terminals are a lot like what Richard Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, once said of slum neighborhoods. "You seen one," Agnew gracelessly said, "you seen 'em all."

Trucking terminals are a lot like that. Basically they are big, huge, cement and steel barns that are used as much as 24 hours a day, ideally as busily as possible. There are no style points for truck terminals. Full Story.....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

YRC seeks to close Richfield truck terminal, shift some work to Copley

Trucking company YRC Worldwide plans to close a terminal in Richfield and move the work to two other Northeast Ohio terminals, including its Copley Township facility.

The financially struggling Overland Park, Kan.-based company, parent of the former Roadway in Akron, has told its Teamsters workers that it is seeking what is called a ''change in operations'' in its contract that will lead to the closing of the terminal at 2977 Brecksville Road.

The information is in a 10-page memo sent to the union; YRC executives could not be reached for comment early today. Full Story.......

Trucker ABF, Teamsters in Concession Talks

Carrier expects to win wage concessions similar to givebacks at YRC

Less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight System is deep in talks with the Teamsters union to win concessions similar to those the union gave financially troubled competitor YRC Worldwide, including an overhaul of the company’s pension system, the carrier said.

“We are in a dialogue with the Teamsters and hopefully we will reach an agreement soon,” ABF Chief Operating Officer Wesley R. Kemp told reporters Monday at the annual Transcomp and Intermodal Expo.

Kemp said the carrier expects to win wage concessions similar to the givebacks that lowered wages some 15 percent at YRC, the nation’s largest LTL operator. ABF also wants to restructure the company’s pension system by switching to a profit-sharing arrangement to match the savings YRC is gaining from an 18-month hiatus from contributing to the driver pension plan.

The agreement between the Teamsters and YRC negotiated a couple of months ago, said Kemp, “was just too great a difference to ignore” between the cost structures at the country’s only large unionized LTL carriers.

He said the company has no deadline for an agreement and that talks have been “productive and cordial.” Union leaders understand, he said, “if something happens to YRC, we are the last employer of Teamsters standing in this industry. Common sense will prevail in the end.”

Kemp would not specifically say whether he expects YRC, which holds more than 20 percent of the LTL market by most estimates, to survive its financial troubles, but ABF has contingency plans for the carrier’s demise in a tough economy.
“The way we see it, someone will exit the industry,” he said.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Zollars: No economic, freight recovery in 2010's first half

The U.S. economy and freight volumes will show no meaningful recovery at least through the first half of next year, putting further pressure on less-than-truckload rates and near-term profitability for LTL carriers, the chairman, president, and CEO of YRC Worldwide Inc. predicted.

William D. Zollars said he expects a continued "challenging environment" for both volumes and pricing through the end of June. While Zollars said YRC sees a more favorable climate in the second half of 2010, he added that "we're not betting on the economy bailing us out," Zollars spoke in an interview with consultancy TranzAct Technologies Inc.

Zollars, whose company earlier this month negotiated a debt-for-equity swap under which YRC bondholders will exchange nearly $600 million in debt for effective equity control of the company, said YRC will be cash-flow positive in 2010 and that operating cash flow metrics are steadily improving. "We are a much stronger company than we were going into the recession," he said.

YRC, the nation's largest LTL carrier, has reduced capacity by between 25 and 30 percent in 2009. Zollars said he is satisfied with the downsizing of the YRC network. "Our capacity fits our volumes pretty well" at this time, he said in the interview.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

YRC Worldwide - Economy Stable But Sees No Momentum

Struggling trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc. issued a muted outlook in an investor presentation, saying conditions appear to have stabilized but warning it sees "no sustained positive momentum" for the economy.

The presentation, dated Wednesday but posted on its Web site Tuesday, comes after it initiated a $536.8 million debt-for-stock swap on Monday viewed as key to its survival.

YRC shares ended down 7.3%, or 8 cents, at $1.02. The stock has plummeted 72% since early last week, when the Overland Park, Kan., company announced details of the highly dilutive exchange offer.

Under the plan, debt holders would control 95% of the company's stock if it goes forward successfully. Chief Executive Bill Zollars has defended the move as the linchpin in teetering YRC's effort to regain financial footing, and the company also has warned that it could file bankruptcy if the debt exchange isn't completed.

The exchange offer will expire at 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 7, unless YRC opts to extend it.

YRC made clear in the investor presentation--which was attributed to President Tim Wicks--that it expects little short-term help from the economy, in terms of the potential for an imminent rebound to fuel a business uptick.

The company said freight volumes have stabilized since the first quarter but haven't changed much since, aside from some seasonal movements. It said it has "no expectation of near-term growth" amid the challenging conditions.

Still, YRC was upbeat on the progress it has made to cut costs, improve its balance sheet and stay afloat. One slide, headlined "people said we couldn't do it," noted that "critics" have been wrong so far in predicting the company wouldn't achieve certain critical milestones.

Rumors of an imminent YRC bankruptcy have circulated for months as the debt-laden company has slashed jobs and sold real estate to raise money and cut costs while the weak economy sapped demand for freight transport. YRC is the largest independent player in the less-than-truckload shipping market, where multiple loads are consolidated onto single trucks.

YRC's exchange offer encompasses the company's 5% convertible notes due in 2023, 3.375% convertible notes due in 2023 and 8.5% guaranteed notes issued by subsidiary YRC Regional Transportation Inc. due April 15. Combined, the notes have a face value of $536.8 million, plus accrued and unpaid interest.

ABF Named on Selling Power Magazine's 2009 'Best Companies to Sell For'

ABF Freight System, Inc., has been named among the top two U.S. companies to sell for in the service sector by Selling Power magazine, whose annual listing includes ABF for the eighth consecutive year. Always among the top 10, ABF ranks second for the second consecutive year and is again the highest ranked transportation company.

"During this challenging economy, ABF has steadfastly maintained its commitment to quality service by empowering employees to help customers overcome supply chain problems. Our sales force plays an essential role in this effort, so it is gratifying to be cited as one of the best once again by Selling Power magazine," said ABF Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Roy Slagle. "ABF transportation professionals are trained to anticipate supply-chain challenges and confront them with value-added solutions. Consequently, ABF is also among the best companies to do business with."

The corporate research team at Selling Power annually identifies and ranks the best companies to sell for in the U.S., focusing on companies with sales forces of 500 or more. Assessments are based on compensation, training and career mobility. Selling Power ranks the top 25 manufacturing companies and the top 25 service companies to complete its annual list of the 50 best companies to sell for.

New Hampshire honors safe driver Michael Rafeal

New Hampshire awarded Michael "Mickey" Rafeal, a 25-year driver for YRC, the New Hampshire Master Truck Driver Certification on November 2, the start of the American Trucking Associations' National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association, Gov. John Lynch and the New Hampshire Department of Safety were at the State House to recognize Rafeal's career-long commitment to the community and the safety of the driving public.

In addition to an engraved plaque and a monogrammed jacket, the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives read a resolution recognizing Rafeal's contributions.

Rafeal has made safety an important part of his career. He regularly competes in the state events leading up to the ATA National Truck Driving Championships. He's competed at the national level seven times and won third place in the Twins class in 2005. Rafeal is president of the state's professional driver association.

New Hampshire honored seven drivers this year. A safety committee comprising four safety specialists and a representative from the Department of Transportation reviewed nominations that drivers' employers submitted. Criteria included driving for their company at least one year; 1 million accident-free miles or 25,000 hours of accident-free driving; no citations within the past three years; and either performance of a meritorious act of selflessness, participation in community service and/or demonstrated leadership in a program or event that promotes the trucking industry's ideals and growth.